Jabez Enstone, referred to as “JE”, features in Chapter V of A H Savory’s Grain and Chaff from an English Manor:
JE was one of my most reliable men, working for me, first as under-carter and afterwards as head carter for, I think, altogether 26 years; he was well-educated and a great reader, quiet and somewhat reserved, and though his humour did not lie on the surface, he could appreciate a joke. My recollections of him, after his steadiness and reliability, are chiefly of his personal mishaps, for he was an unlucky man in this particular.
I was on my round one morning when I met a breathless carter-boy making for the village. Asked where he was off to, “Please, sir,” he replied, “I be to fetch Master E another pair of trousers!” “Trousers,” said I, “what on earth for?” “Please, sir, the bull ha’ ripped ‘em!” I hurried on and soon saw that it was no laughing matter, for I found poor E in a terrible plight of rags and tatters, sitting in a cart-shed in some outlying buildings, on a roller. The cowman was standing by holding a Jersey bull. The story was soon told. The cowman, having to go into the yard, had asked E to hold the bull a minute. Unfortunately, the animal had only a halter on him, the cowman having omitted to bring the stick, with hook and swivel, to attach to the bull’s nose-ring. No sooner was the cowman out of sight than the bull began to fret and, turning upon E, knocked him down between a mangoldbury and the outside wall of the yard. In this position he was unable to get a direct attack upon the man, but he managed to gore him badly and tear his clothes to pieces. The cowman, hearing E calling, came back and rescued him, the bull becoming quite docile with his regular attendant. Poor E was black and blue when he got home in the pony-cart and was laid up for many weeks afterwards. He undoubtedly had a very narrow escape.
E’s bad luck overtook him again when returning from Evesham with, fortunately, an empty wagon and team; one of the horses was startled and E ran forwards to catch the reins. By some means he fell and the wagon-wheels passed over him; had it been full, as it was on the outward journey, with a heavy load of beans, it would have been a serious matter, but nevertheless he suffered a great deal for some time afterwards.
JE must have walked many hundreds of miles among my hops with the horses drawing “the mistifier”, a syringing machine which pumped a mist-like spray of soft soap and quassia solution upon the under-side of the hop-leaves, when attacked by the aphis blight; and he must have destroyed many millions of aphides, for the blight was an annual occurrence at Aldington and taxed our energies to the utmost at one of the busiest times of year.
Mrs JE [Catherine Enstone, née Mason, 1848-1936] was, and is, one of those kind persons always ready to do a good turn to a neighbour. She and her husband brought up a large family, all of whom have done well, and a son in the Grenadier Guards [William Enstone, 1889-1964] especially distinguished himself in the war. She has a remarkable memory for dates of birthdays, weddings and such-like events, and often writes us one of her interesting letters, full of information of the old village.
Jabez Samuel Enstone was born at Ilmington, Warwickshire, in 1846, the second of three children of Daniel Enstone and his wife, Sarah (née Purser). In May 1875 Jabez, then living at Handsworth, married Badsey-born Catherine Mason at Badsey. To begin with, they lived at Badsey, where Sarah Jane (1877-1954) was born but, by 1879 when George (1879-1942) was born, they were living at Manor Cottage, Aldington. They went on to have four more sons and two daughters: James Purser (1881-1961), Thomas (1882-1883), Annie Maria (1885-1944), John (1887-1966), William (1889-1964) and Catherine (1891-1975).
Jabez was initially an agricultural labourer, but then became an under-carter for Arthur Savory when they moved to Aldington, eventually taking over from James Pethard as head carter; Catherine was a dressmaker. The son referred to by A H Savory was William Enstone spent all his life in Aldington or Badsey except for service in the Grenadier Guards in the 1914-18 War; he was one of the Old Contemptibles.
In 1902, Jabez was listed in Smith’s Almanack as a Market Gardener. Jabez died at Badsey in 1927 and Catherine in 1936.